When you hear the word ‘internship’, what’s your first impression?
Exciting. Daunting. Life changing. Exhausting. Meaningful.
For me, it was all of the above. Indeed, going through an internship will be one of the most defining moments in your university and career life. It’s the bricks that make up the wall, the foundation to launch your career! It’s an excellent way to test the waters of the working world and is definitely much more than just a ‘pretty’ addition to your resume. Remember how you answered the HR manager’s tough question of, “Why are you the best candidate for this role?”. Now that you’ve given the perfect answer, it is time to walk the walk, and talk the talk.
One thing that interns always forget about their internship is that it doesn’t last forever (although it can sometimes feel like it!). Hence, within just a few months, you’d need to prove your worth and show that you are indeed the crème de la crème of interns. If you want to ace your internship, or perhaps even turn it into a full-time job, here are some tips on ensuring your internship period is a smooth sailing.
Are you ready? Brace yourself and get onboard!
One of the first pre-internship preparations is to understand your job scope and responsibilities. This step may seem trivial but it's crucial for you to ace it. Why? Imagine trying to dance to a TikTok hit without knowing the dance steps. You may end up looking like an awkward cat flailing its hands around!
Now that you know what your job entails, be prepared to work beyond the job scope. From getting coffee orders and running errands to leading presentations and achieving sales targets. Keep in mind that in the learning process, there's no task beneath you. It’s important to do whatever task you can, as the more you do, the more you’ll learn. And no, I’m not just talking about your job scope. Rather, take the opportunity to learn the company’s culture, your bosses’ leadership styles, and how to handle clients or external parties. Be observant and grab the opportunity to learn these soft skills. It’ll help build your professional identity tremendously!
Now that you’re ready to slay your internship, let me highlight another golden tip: Never leave room for doubt. Always ask your colleagues, seniors, and supervisors directly whenever you need help to ensure you’re performing your best. At the same time, since you’ll be working with different kinds of people with different working styles, you’ll need to prepare yourself mentally for comments about your performance. Keep in mind not to take everything to heart and treat any comment as part of your learning curve!
Another thing to bear in mind is that mistakes happen — Don’t dwell on it! Accept that you’ve made a mistake, apologise for it, and learn from it. I still remember how I vouched for the entire document instead of only the requested samples leading me to re-do it all over again (facepalm). I definitely remember not to make the same mistake ever again. Likewise, instead of beating yourself, learn to brush it off and make efforts to avoid repeating the same mistake. After all, you’re only human!
Speaking of being human, it’s vital to take your breaks in time. Have proper lunch and try (really, try!) to not bring your work home. Take it from someone who has interned at one of the Big 4 Firms during peak audit season. (They should really change it from ‘as busy as bees’ to ‘as busy as auditors’!). An internship may be your first work experience. Hence, it can be easy to lose yourself to work. Blurring the lines between personal and work time can make you feel a burnout pretty soon which may prevent you from performing at your best.
Internships may help students transition from being students to professionals among the working class. Hence, discard the mentality that internships are like assignments where it only helps yourselves. Instead, remember that it’s a responsibility, so show that you’re an energetic go-getter! Yes, you may receive a paycheck at the end of the month but remember, you’re a value-add asset to the company who’s helping them achieve their goals. If you experience stressful moments during your internship, ask yourself: “Why am I doing this and how does the company need my help?” Final year students are usually the ones that undergo an internship so keep in mind that you’re representing the university and make them proud!
Besides being punctual, professional, and ever-ready, which are things you should probably already know, aren’t the only things you should do. Instead, here are my practical tips that helped me throughout my internship journey:
Reach out to professionals within the same company to understand your job role and the working environment better. LinkedIn is a great place to start connecting with people!
PS.: Don’t forget to ask around about the everyday tools or softwares that are most frequently used by the company. Thank me later!
Keep a daily log of your work throughout the internship period. This way, during your evaluation period, you’re able to highlight your strengths, look back at your weaknesses, and, hopefully, get a good employer recommendation!
Tip: Your daily work log should consist of at least: Description of given task, mistakes made and skills learned, and significance of the tasks completed. This'll help the employer tremendously in understanding your capabilities and initiatives as an intern as well as how you can and have added value to the company!
Internships may not last forever but refrain from ‘Hi-Bye!’-ing your colleagues. Instead, keep in touch with your colleagues and supervisors. You’ll learn a lot from them and it’s always good to have connections!
Indeed, internships can be daunting and stressful. Everyone’s been there but you don’t have to go through it alone! Talk to your colleagues, seniors, or reach out to Taylor’s Career Services for guidance. Remember, you’re purposeful and with the right mindset, you’re able to ace your internship. Give yourself a pat in the back for having made it this far!
Hustle hard, acknowledge your achievements, and most importantly, enjoy the experience. All the best!
Puteri Nelissa Milani completed her Bachelor of Business (Honours) Finance and Economics at Taylor's University in August 2020 and is currently working as an internal auditor with Maybank. She is also a journalist for the independent student-run organisation Financial Literacy for Youths: Malaysia (FLY: Malaysia).
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